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Your September break in Malta

With the end of summer approaching, we all tend to suffer from post-holiday blues. As school starts, work picks up again, the days get shorter and the tan lines start to fade, we tend to look back at what a wonderful summer it has been . Thankfully, in Malta, the beautiful weather persists throughout September (ignoring the occasional rainy days – which are well appreciated to keep the island healthy), which allows us to enjoy the last summer days to the fullest.

So instead of planning a trip abroad, spend money and time travelling – why not appreciate what our homeland has to offer? Treat yourself to a weekend break in Malta, Gozo or even Comino!

Why should you spend your September break in Malta? Here’s why.

Malta in September is stunning

Malta is absolutely gorgeous during this month of the year, as the hot weather cools down but remains warm enough to enjoy dips at the beach and pool. Striking views, excellent food, and wonderful atmosphere can be found all around. What is there not to love?

You are at home

Whether you are staying at a hotel, going camping, or renting a farmhouse – you are at home. This is your island, your place, your nest. They say that there is no better place than home, and with living in such a beautiful island, we agree.

You can switch off

Many people believe that the only way they can switch off and relax is by travelling abroad – we agree to disagree. It is important that one can enjoy a relaxing weekend in their own homeland, and not feel forced to book a flight ticket elsewhere. Don’t escape from the stress, but rather, learn how to distress in the place you belong. The last thing you wish to do is to turn our beautiful island into a rock of problems and stress. You must learn to love your country as much as you love travelling.

A photo posted by Kirsty (@kirst_james) on

Everybody loves Malta

Plenty of tourists come to Malta every year and return back home eager to plan their next visit – why is that? Simply because our little island has so much to offer. More often than not, though, we tend to underappreciate where we come from and seek for new adventures elsewhere. We dare you to spend a weekend living like a tourist in Malta – look at the island from a different perspective, do things you would only do while on holiday. Enjoy Malta like a tourist would.

Planning a September break in Malta is really all that simple. Book yourself a hotel to escape the house chores, get in touch with nature while camping – do whatever makes you happy, just get to appreciate and love Malta a little bit more.

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Summer in Malta – The Local Tourist 

malta

Light cliff jumping at Fekruna

Nothing quite like the little inlet in Xemxija for a moderately high cliff to jump, that’s also pretty safe from tourist invasion. The water is clear and getting up and down the cliff is comfortable. In short, it’s the perfect place to take your mid-air jump shot of the summer.

Go camping at F’omm Ir-rih

This one may not be easy to get to, but it’s worth every thorn that will enter your sandal. Once you manage to haul your camping gear to the perfect spot and pitch your tent, you’ll soon come to notice it was worth the struggle. With barely any light spillage, the moon and stars will shine so brightly they’ll practically beg you to get singing Dancing In The Moonlight around the campfire. We’re also somewhat sure you won’t mind waking up to this view:

Enjoy some Maltese grub by the beach

Nothing screams Maltese Summer like a classic Hobz Biz-Zejt Ftira and Cisk by the beach. Treat your taste buds and indulge in a sandwich from heaven, bursting with Maltese ġbejna, tuna, olives, beans, capers and anything else you deem fit. For this, any beach will do, as long as you’ve got your delicious goodies packed.

Une photo publiée par Mark Galea (@mgxx111) le

Check Out St Peter’s Pool Malta

Not up for the masses of the tourists at Blue Lagoon? Enjoy equally clear waters at the tip of Delimara point, close to Marsaxlokk. Chill, chat and tan, and enjoy an uninterrupted day in paradise.

Buy fresh fish from the market

Marsaxlokk’s famous fish market will never let you down. You haven’t embraced the true Mediterranean summer until you’ve tasted the ocean! Whether it’s clams, muscles, shrimps or fish – we’re sure something will tickle your taste buds.

Teatime: The Local Way

When was the last time you treated yourself to some greasy goodness? Mqaret may not be there for daily consumption, but the Te Fit-Tazza + Mqaret combo is a match made in local heaven.

Go stargazing at Dingli Cliffs

Head to Dingli for some peace and quiet. Count shooting stars, cuddle under blankets and just enjoy the tranquillity of the night. It will definitely be worth your while.

Une photo publiée par Mark Mifsud (@beardbro29) le

Check out the Delicata Wine Festival

Live music and good wine are the perfect combo. The Delicata Classic Wine festival is back for its 15th year, at the beautiful Upper Barrakka Gardens in Valletta. Enjoy the beautiful view with good company and make it a night to remember.

Une photo publiée par Luke Busuttil (@buzu05) le

Dive into Festa season – Santa Marija is just around the corner

Head down to the village core! Check out the giggifogu, follow the banda, dance around in shredded paper, watch the fireworks and indulge in some helwa tat-tork.

Visit Blue Grotto

It’s never too soon to return to our beloved Blue Grotto. Marvel at this gem by boat from Wied iz-Zurrieq, from where you can also enjoy superb views of Filfla and the surroundings. Early morning visits are recommended, whilst the sun is lower and the water calmer.

Une photo publiée par Alannah (@alannahvhn) le

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Four Unpopular Beaches in Malta

malta beach

Xrobb L-Ghaġin

Found in the Marsaxlokk vicinity, in the Delimara area, this beach might not technically qualify as one, but if you’re feeling a little bit adventurous you can access it by boat. The crystal clear water and surrounding cliffs completely cut you off from the hustle and bustle of the island and you’ll feell at one with the sea.

Kalanka Bay

Everyone has heard about the famous St Peter’s Pools in Marsaxlokk, but little know that if you walk further in you’re to find another lovely little rocky beach called Kalanka Bay. Due to shallower waters with sandy bottoms, the sea looks much bluer than the depths of St Peter’s Pools. Despite it being still quite populated in the summer seasons by locals, it’s still much quainter than other beaches in the area.

Santa Maria Bay

When you ask someone regarding Comino, the first thing that pops into mind instantly is the Blue Lagoon, and with perfectly good reason. However for those who would wish to stay away from the bustle of the infamous beach, Comino is surrounded with little quaint beaches, one of them being Santa Maria Bay just a 20 minute walk away from the Blue Lagoon. Santa Maria Bay has shallow clear waters and sandy shores perfect for relaxation.

Slugs Bay

Despite its name being rather unappealing, this little bay is really pretty. Slugs Bay is situated in the northern part of the island of Malta, in the Mellieħa area.

The surrounding parts of the bay are ideal for those who enjoy a nice and peaceful stroll finding an abundance of flowers and island wildlife. What’s even better is that it is a great spot for those who love to go diving!

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Festa Time

Summer is just around the corner and so are feasts! Malta doesn’t just celebrate Christmas, Easter and public holidays. As you know, the Christian faith plays a key part in our small island and feasts, celebrating different religious martyrs and patrons, are a fundamental part of the island life in Malta.

Festa season normally starts around the month of May and ends in September, despite still having a couple of feasts that occur in the colder winter months. You’re safe to say that during each weekend until the summer months end, there is a festa somewhere in a locality on the island.

malta festa

What to expect?

Fireworks, music, and food are on the agenda when in comes to festas.

The best days during the weekend to actually go to a festa is usually either on a Friday or a Sunday, as that is when the patron statue is taken out from the church and is carried around the streets of the locality where it’s accompanied by band music and patron supporters. Yes, the Maltese are very fond of their village patrons.

Crowds gather in the village streets during the festas and it is usually the perfect occasion for family and friends to meet up.

malta festa

In the streets of the locality, you’ll find numerous fast food stalls set up, but if you’re a little adventurous and would like to taste a little piece of heaven you have to try out the famous imqaret (which are deep fried date cakes) which are normally found being sold from the back of a van solely selling it. Another delicious local treat you’ll only find being sold during a festa is qubbajd (also known as nougat). This sugary treat is normally sold from dark wooden antique stalls displaying a colourful array.

malta festa
Fireworks play a crucial part in the festa. You even have localities competing who has the best and most original display of fireworks. The pyrotechnic capabilities which some Maltese possess truly shine through during the village festa, not only in the sky but also on the ground which they call ċikċifogu. The Maltese night sky is lit up and painted with these firey spectacles, surely keeping you transfixed on their beauty.

malta festa

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Easter celebrations in Malta

Easter is probably one of the biggest festivities after Christmas in Malta, because of the important role religion plays on the island.  If you are here during the weekend, check out what Malta has in store to celebrate the feast.

25th March 2016: Good Friday

Image Source: Andrey; Flickr.

Image Source: Andrey; Flickr.

During this day, you can see big processions taking place in many different villages across Malta and Gozo. The main ones have locals dressed up as Biblical figures such as Romans, priests and disciples, some people taking part will be barefoote, or with chains attached to their ankles or carrying crosses. The processions usually involve marching out of the church, with the people bearing statues and scenes representing the ‘Passion of Our Lord’.

Image Source: Michael Caroe Andersen; Flickr.

Image Source: Michael Caroe Andersen; Flickr.

Here’s a list of the villages in Malta and Gozo where the processions take place.

Malta: Birgu (Vittoriosa), Bormla (Senglea), Ghaxaq, Luqa, Mosta, Naxxar, Paola, Qormi, Rabat, Senglea, Valletta, Żebbuġ and Żejtun.

Gozo: Nadur, Ghajnsielem, Victoria (St. George Basilica and St Maria Cathedral), Xewkija, Qala, Xaghra and Żebbuġ.

It is also traditional for the Maltese people to visit and pray in seven different churches on Good Friday.

Image Source: Andrey; Flickr.

Image Source: Andrey; Flickr.

27th March 2016: Easter Sunday

During Easter Sunday, a special mass takes place in the morning, to celebrate the Risen Christ. The locals celebrate the day with their families and friends, with big lunches followed by exchanging the traditional chocolate eggs. Malta also has special Easter cakes, the figolli (find out how to bake them here).

On the day, you can head down to Birgu where the Risen Christ celebration takes place. A group of men carrying a heavy statue of the Ascending Christ march together. This is a very popular Maltese event among the tourists.

Image Source: PROMichael Caroe Andersen; Flickr.

Image Source: PROMichael Caroe Andersen; Flickr.

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Homemade figolli recipe

figolli

Photo: Romina Tolu.

Easter is a very important date in Malta, as many people get together to celebrate the day with their family and loved ones. What you will surely see on the dining table of Maltese people is figolli. These are traditional almond cakes, typically prepared for Easter. They come in different forms and colours, and are very tasty.
Here’s a recipe to help you make delicious homemade figolli, and bring some of the Maltese tradition home.

The Ingredients you need

For the pastry

1kg plain flour

2 tsp baking powder

300g sugar

450g unsalted butter

Zest of 2 lemons and 2 oranges

Juice of 2 oranges

6 egg yolks

For the almond filling

800g pure ground almonds

640g sugar

Zest of 3 lemons

5-6 egg whites

1 tsp vanilla essence

You will also need marzipan, icing and chocolate to decorate the figolli

For the decoration

Icing

chocolate

Small Easter eggs

Preparation

To start off, mix together the flour, baking powder and sugar in a bowl; then add the butter and work the ingredients together with your hands until you get a breadcrumb-like mixture. Now, add the zest of the oranges and lemons with the fresh orange juice and egg yolks – mix everything together. Once you have a smooth soft pastry, wrap it up in clingfilm and leave it in the fridge for 30 minutes.

While you wait for the pastry to chill, you can start preparing the almond filling. Bind all the ingredients together with your hands until the mixture becomes soft marzipan. Once the almond filling is ready and the pastry cooled down, it is time to prepare the figolli!
Put some flour on the surface you are working on, and roll out the pastry to about 4cm thick. Once you have a uniform flat surface, you can cut out the figolli shape with baking cutters (these can vary from rabbit shapes, to eggs, butterflies, hearts and whatever you want). Remember that for each figolla, you will need two identical shapes. Repeat the same procedure for the almond filling, cutting out one shape per figolla. Now, brush the pastry shape with a little bit of water, cover the pieces with the almond filling and then brush it with a little bit of water and cover the filling with the remaining pastry shape.
You can now bake your figolli in the oven at 180 C for approximately 35-40 minutes. Once cooked, let them cool down completely outside the oven before removing them from the baking trays. We recommend decorating the figolli the following day, and you can let your creativity run wild with icing, chocolate and small easter eggs.

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The Malta International Firework Festival

The 15th edition of the Malta International Firework Festival will take place between the 16th and 30th April 2016, organised by the Ministry of Tourism and the Malta Tourism Authority.

This event is held in a form of a competition, where many Maltese and also foreign fireworks factories take part and present spectacular fireworks that are synchronised to music.

This event is free of charge, and can be seen from many parts of the island – allowing locals and tourists to have a different way to spend the evening.

Pyrotechnic displays will take as following

Saturday 16th April 2016: MARSAXLOKK
Saturday 23rd April 2016: XAGĦRA GOZO
Saturday 30th April 2016: GRAND HARBOUR VALLETTA

Fireworks are a big part of the Maltese tradition, and the first time they were used was back in the days of the Knights of St. John. Today we can see the use of fireworks for celebrations during the summer Village Feasts, local weddings, and big occasions such as the New Year.

Here are some stunning photos from the past events:

Image Source: Epic Fireworks; Flickr.

Image Source: Epic Fireworks; Flickr.

Image Source: Michael Camilleri; Flickr.

Image Source: Michael Camilleri; Flickr.

Image Source: Epic Fireworks; Flickr.

Image Source: Epic Fireworks; Flickr.

Image Source: Epic Fireworks; Flickr.

Image Source: Epic Fireworks; Flickr.

Image Source: Epic Fireworks; Flickr.

Image Source: Epic Fireworks; Flickr.

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10 movies filmed in Malta

Malta has become the Mediterranean’s mini Hollywood thanks to the number of international movies produced here on the island. Big stars such as Tom Cruise, Brad Pitt, Michael Bay, Angelina Jolie amongst others have come to Malta to film and take part in international blockbusters.
Here’s a list of movies that you’ve probably watched and didn’t know were filmed on this beautiful island.

1. Popeye, 1980

The movie, starring Robin Williams in his first major film role, was premiered on December 6, 1980, in Los Angeles, California.

Not only was Popeye filmed in Malta, but the whole set that was built for the movie is still found at Anchor Bay and is now an open-air museum.

Image Source: imagea.org; Flickr.

Image Source: imagea.org; Flickr.

2. Gladiator, 2000

The epic-historical drama film, Gladiator, which was released in 2000, starring Russell Crowe was filmed in Malta. The film won multiple awards, including Best Actor for Russell Crowe, Best Picture, and three Oscars at the 73rd Academy Awards.

The scenes of Ancient Rome were actually filmed in Malta, at the Fort Ricasoli over a period of nineteen weeks. On the island, a replica of almost a third of Rome’s Colosseum was built, 52 feet high and took approximately  $1 million and several months to replicate.

3. Pinocchio, 2002

The Italian fantasy comedy-drama film Pinocchio, starring Roberto Benigni was filmed in Italy and in Kalkara, Malta. The movie was released in Italy in October 2002, and a dubbed version in the US in December 2002.

4. Swept Away, 2002

Madonna too was one of the famous people to land to Malta to take part in the filming of a movie. The movie Swept Away is a 2002 British-Italian romantic comedy-drama film, filmed in Sardinia and Malta.

If you look closely, you can spot the beautiful beach of Comino.

Image Source: Flavio Ensiki; Flickr.

Image Source: Flavio Ensiki; Flickr.

5. The Count of Monte Cristo, 2002

This adventure drama film was directed by Kevin Raynolds and stars Jim Caviezel Guy Pearce. By simply watching the trailer you will be able to recognize many Maltese spots.

6. Troy, 2004

Troy is an American epic adventure war film based on Homer’s Iliad. Directed by David Benioff and starring Brad Pitt and Orlando Bloom. The city of Troy was built in Malta at Fort Ricasoli, but the movie was also shot in Mellieha and Comino.

7. Da Vinci Code, 2006

The movie adapted by best-seller Dan Brown’s, The Da Vinci Code was yet another movie filmed in Malta, starring Tom Hanks and Audrey Tautou. The historical feel of the island was the reason why the producer decided to film parts of the movie here.

8. World War Z, 2013

World War Z is a 2013 American apocalyptic action horror film directed by Marc Forster and stars Brad Pitt and Gerry Lane. The film began in Malta, and shots were filmed in Valletta and The Three Cities.

9. Captain Phillips, 2013

Based on a real event, Captain Phillips narrates the Maersk Alabama hijacking, the story of Captain Richard Phillips taken hostage by pirates.  Filming took place off the coast of Malta and was directed by Paul Greengrass and starring Tom Hanks and Barkhad Abdi. The movie received six Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture and Best Supporting Actor for Abdi.

10. By The Sea, 2015

A romantic drama film written and directed by Angelina Jolie, and produced by and also starring husband Brad Pitt and herself. The movie was filmed in Gozo, starting in August 2004 and ending in November 2004.

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4 Reasons Why Gozo is a Beautiful Gem

Gozo is one of Malta’s sister islands – a popular destination for both the locals and tourists, because of its charm, and a must-see if you are visiting Malta.
We have put together 4 reasons as to why Gozo is such a beautiful island to visit.

Gozo is green

Gozo has a lot of free land, which allows the vegetation to grow and turn into a beautiful green gem throughout the year. The scenery that the island has to offer is absolutely wonderful, you can swim in the Mediterranean sea but still enjoy the beautiful green hills all around you.

Image Source: Kevin Cauchi; Flickr.

Image Source: Kevin Cauchi; Flickr.

Gozo is calm

The one thing you will feel upon stepping into Gozo is: relaxed. There is a feeling of calmness in Gozo that takes over you completely. It’s almost impossible to feel stressed on this island, as the people look more relaxed and the beautiful nature gives a sense of tranquility.

Image Source: IVAN 63; Flickr.

Image Source: IVAN 63; Flickr.

Gozo is historical

Just like Malta, Gozo has a vast history, varying from Mythological stories to historical sites dating back to 3,000 BC. You can find the Calypso cave (currently not accessible) where the known Ulysses from the Greek Mythology is known to have been kept love prisoner for seven years by the Nymph Calypso. From here you can admire a beautiful view of the Riviera Bay, with it’s orange sand, green hills, and blue water. While in Gozo, you can also visit the Temple of Ggantija, one of Unesco’s world heritage. These are Megalithic Temples and are believed to be the oldest free-standing monuments in the world by some of the best historians.

Image Source: Kevin Cauchi; Flickr.

Image Source: Kevin Cauchi; Flickr.

Gozo is spectacular

There are so many incredible places to visit whilst in Gozo – all of which will take your breath away. From the popular Azure Window to the least known crystal clear water in wied il ghasri, from the fortified city Citadella from where you can enjoy an outstandings 360 degrees view of Gozo, to the pretty Xlendi Bay – Gozo is simply a spectacular place to visit.

Image Source: Giuseppe Milo; Flickr.

Image Source: Giuseppe Milo; Flickr.

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48 hours in Malta

 

If you are planning a quick getaway to Mata, here is a guide that will help you make the most of the 48 hours you will be spending on the island.

 

DAY 1

 

9:00 am – Coffee in Valletta

 

Start your first day on the island by visiting the beautiful capital city, Valletta – one of the most historic places in Malta and a UNESCO World Heritage site. Start off by visiting the Upper Barakka Gardens where you will see a wonderful view of the Grand Harbour. You can then grab a coffee in one of the many coffee shops, and wander around the streets and admire the historical buildings. If then the time permits, you must visit the St John’s Co-Cathedral, a treasure of Baroque art and architecture.

Image Source: Emmanuel Eragne; Flickr.

Image Source: Emmanuel Eragne; Flickr.

12:00 pm – Lunch at the Valletta Waterfront

 

The Valletta Waterfront offers many different dining experiences, from traditional meals to Italian pizzas and Chinese restaurants. You can have your meal outdoor, in some restaurants even during the colder weather as they have tents and heaters, whilst enjoying the beautiful view of the harbour.

 

Image Source: Cycling man; Flickr.

Image Source: Cycling man; Flickr.

02:00 pm – A walk in Mdina

 

It is now time to take a trip to the past by visiting Malta’s former capital city, Mdina. Situated in the proximities of Rabat, several buses can be taken from Valletta. Here you will instantly feel as if you’re in a medieval era, thanks to the Norman and Baroque architecture. The city is known amongst the locals as the ‘Silent City’, as nearly no cars are allowed inside – this will allow you to calmly visit the city.

Image Source: ErKi1998; Flickr.

Image Source: ErKi1998; Flickr.

04:00 pm – Breathtaking view at Dingli Cliffs

 

Known as the highest point of Malta, Dingli Cliffs will offer you a breathtaking view and a sense of tranquillity. You can either go for a walk along the cliff or simply find a spot where to sit down and enjoy the beautiful view.

Image Source: Michael Camilleri; Flickr.

Image Source: Michael Camilleri; Flickr.

06:00 pm – Sliema to St Julian’s

 

Sliema and St Julian’s are very touristic attractions, and can be reached by a 30-minute walk along the seafront promenade. Start off in Sliema and end in St Julian’s, where you will find different pubs and restaurants. For the ones who wish to dance the night away, the Maltese nightlife is found in Paceville, in St Julian’s. For those who wish to have a more tranquil, relaxed or romantic evening, this village has a lot to offer – from restaurants with stunning views of Spinola Bay (and the famous Love sign) to cosier and more intimate diners.

Image Source: Marco Chiesa; Flickr.

Image Source: Marco Chiesa; Flickr.

DAY 2

10:00 am – Exploring the Blue Grotto

 

Prepare yourself to be truly amazed by this natural beauty that the Blue Grotto is – the cliffs and crystal clear waters will be the perfect subject of your photographs. Also known for featuring in the film Troy starring Brad Pitt, the site attracts hundred of thousand of tourists each year. The earlier you get to this destination the better, because the low sun in the sky and the calmer sea will provide you with a unique scenery.

 

 

Image Source: Jennifer Morrow; Flickr.

Image Source: Jennifer Morrow; Flickr.

01:00 pm – Colorful Marsaxlokk

 

A must see when visiting Malta is Marsaxlokk, the main fishing village on the island. Once there, something which you surely won’t miss are the colorful luzzus, the typical Maltese fishing boats. Here you will also be able to grab something to eat for lunch – the perfect place for the fish lovers, but not just limited to that.

 

Image Source: Tony Hisgett; Flickr.

Image Source: Tony Hisgett; Flickr.

04:00 pm – The Limestone Heritage

If history is your thing, you definitely need to visit the Limestone Heritage park in Siggiewi. Here you will be able to get a better understanding of Malta’s vibrant history dating back over 22 million years. The park is perfect for families too, as it also offers an onsite animal park along as demonstrations of limestone sculpting.

Image Source: hazelisles; Flickr.

Image Source: hazelisles; Flickr.

08:00 pm – Dinner at Vittoriosa

 

Here comes the end of a filled, exciting and packed with beautiful sceneries trip to Malta. To celebrate, head to Vittoriosa (to be exact at the Birgu waterfront) choose one of the restaurants and spend your last evening indulging in some mouthwatering food and a glass of wine.

 

Image Source: Emanuele; Flickr.

Image Source: Emanuele; Flickr.

 

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